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Mistaking Strength for Weakness

I’m a self-beater-upper. The sort that looks at the mistakes ones made and holds oneself so far accountable, that one often loses sight of the real or joint culprits.

However, what I used to mistake for weakness was actually strength or a sign I’d been too strong for too long.

The worst thing about realising this is that I’m in my thirties. The times I was at my strongest was when I was younger and I didn’t realise at the time that I was so strong. I just saw myself as a great big hairy failure and a weakling.

When I was a young woman, I used to be in a really awful relationship with someone. People would constantly ask me why I stayed on a daily basis. Even that persons own family. No-one got it.

I used to tell myself that I was a wimp – a coward – because I stayed. I dug my finger nails into the cracks and held on fast, refusing to let go because it got tough. I gritted my teeth and carried on underneath the crushing, intolerable weight of the misery I felt.

I thought for a very long time, that the reason I stayed, was because I was too frightened of being without this person or just being alone. I had faced heartbreak before and I knew how terrible it would be if I walked away.

That made me wrongly see myself as a wimp.

If only I had known the truth – I was extremely brave.

Despite the things that happened, scary things, things that would give you nightmares, I hung on. I used that bloody-minded stubborn-arse strength in me to hang on to hope. I hung on to the hope that things could change, that this person would change and that things would get better. That mind set was not for the feint hearted. I gathered up my strength, charged it with all the will I had and unfurled it out before me, like a magic mist, keeping me safe in its comforting obscurity.

This person would push against me and instead of falling backwards and scurrying off, I pushed back harder. I gave it my absolute all and didn’t give up on them or hope or love. I did not walk away – because frankly, that would have been extremely easy and beyond justified.

In the end, I would have walked away. Let’s be honest. Not because I would have run out of strength, but I would have come to the realisation that this person would never fight for me as hard as I fought for them. That they did not match me in terms of strength and to be honest, that would never do. I would have seen that they were too weak to handle a strong person like me, which is why they had to compensate like they did.

To pass through life as my second self and be such a coward and a weak spirited loser? No chance. I was just lucky that I found the strong one for me not long after, who absolutely deserves my strength and love.

I am extremely proud of me. I was a rock. I was immovable. I was a sarsen stone from Stonehenge and there was a ram head-butting me, futilely trying to topple me. It became almost comically pointless to continue wasting my time with someone so weak and deluded. A sheep with horns is not going to topple a mountain and that is what we were in the end.

However, youth, vulnerability, shitty health, shitty people around me and inexperience of life made me see things in a skewed, unrealistic way. The ram said I was made of sponge and I believed it. It was only when I got older and realised that trees nearby had fallen in storms, that I had weathered without even noticing.

Whenever I feel weak, I look back at everything I have faced in my 32 years of being alive and realise I am someone to be proud of. That I am strong, powerful and a force to be reckoned with. I am not to be put down, destroyed, hurt or walked all over.

As my heroine Jane Eyre says: I am no bird and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.

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